Metropolitan partners with Inland Valley agencies on groundwater storage project in Chino Basin

Helping to ensure the reliability of urban Southern California's water supplies during dry years and emergencies, Metropolitan Water District today partnered with three Inland Valley water agencies on a project that will stockpile more than 30 billion gallons of water underground.

Jun 23rd, 2003

LOS ANGELES, June 23, 2003 -- Helping to ensure the reliability of urban Southern California's water supplies during dry years and emergencies, Metropolitan Water District today partnered with three Inland Valley water agencies on a project that will stockpile more than 30 billion gallons of water underground.

Metropolitan's President and Chief Executive Officer Ronald R. Gastelum joined officials from Inland Empire Utilities Agency, Three Valleys Municipal Water District and the Chino Basin Watermaster in signing a 25-year agreement to store water in the Chino Basin, a vast aquifer underlying an area stretching from Pomona to Chino.

"Groundwater storage projects like this illustrate how the region puts together the pieces of our water supply reliability portfolio," said Gastelum, who was joined at the ceremony by Richard Atwater, Inland Empire's general manager; Richard W. Hansen, Three Valleys' general manager/chief engineer; and John V. Rossi, chief executive officer of the Chino Basin Watermaster.

"We look for opportunities to store water when it's available for times when it's needed, particularly during dry years," Gastelum said.

The Chino Basin agreement is one of five groundwater storage projects authorized by Metropolitan's board to receive Proposition 13 funds. The state allocated Metropolitan $45 million from Prop. 13 to help develop groundwater storage projects in Southern California.

Under the agreement, the Chino Basin project will receive $9 million from Prop. 13. In addition, Metropolitan's board authorized another $18.5 million for the project, as well as expansion of an existing recycling project under the district's Local Projects Program, which offers financial incentives for water management efforts.

Gastelum said the Chino Basin agreement continues a new wave of storage projects Metropolitan is pursuing with its member agencies to bolster supply reliability in Southern California.

"Increasing groundwater storage in the region plays a large role in our diversified resource portfolio, which allows us to hedge our bets against the state's unpredictable climate, as well as any uncertainties regarding our imported supplies from the Colorado River and Northern California," Gastelum said.

The $27.5 million project will allow Metropolitan, in cooperation with the three local agencies, to store up to 100,000 acre-feet of water in the Chino Basin during wet periods and withdraw 33,000 acre-feet per year -- enough for more than 65,000 families -- during dry spells, droughts or emergencies. (An acre-foot is nearly 326,000 gallons of water, about what two typical Southern California families use in and around their home in a year.)

"Inland Empire Utilities Agency's board and staff are very pleased to enter into this drought-proofing partnership with Metropolitan, Three Valleys Municipal Water District, and Chino Basin Watermaster," said Atwater. "This is a historic agreement that has been in the works since 1984."

The project calls for drilling seven extraction wells, along with construction of ion exchange treatment facilities throughout the area to remove nitrates from the pumped groundwater. Construction of the new facilities is expected to begin later this year.

"Three Valleys is pleased to be part of this project, which will assist in creating a more reliable water supply," Hansen said. "We look forward to future partnerships with Metropolitan and our neighboring agencies that focus on developing local resources."

Rossi called the Chino groundwater basin "one of the most significant storage opportunities in Southern California.

"This project not only helps protect our local residents from drought periods, it shares this benefit with our neighboring communities," Rossi said.

Today's event occurs a week after state officials reversed an earlier decision to let 30 billion gallons of drinking water, which Metropolitan had purchased from Sacramento Valley rice farmers, flow into the Pacific Ocean, after originally agreeing to store the water. The state eventually agreed to work with Metropolitan in storing 100,000 acre-feet of the transferred water in state reservoirs, including Lake Oroville, after the federal government offered to store the water in federal reservoirs.

To learn more about Metropolitan and the role groundwater storage projects like Chino Basin's will play in Southern California's water future, visit MWD's Web site at mwdh2o.com.

The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California is a cooperative of 26 cities and water agencies serving 18 million people in six counties. The district imports water from the Colorado River and Northern California to supplement local supplies, and helps its members to develop increased water conservation, recycling, storage, and other water-management programs.

More in Drinking Water